Italian GP: Michelin preview

The Italian Grand Prix is one of the most keenly anticipated races on the MotoGP calendar. A superb, high-speed racetrack in a beautiful Tuscan valley that throngs with a vast and enthusiastic crowd makes Mugello an irresistible event for riders,...

The Italian Grand Prix is one of the most keenly anticipated races on the MotoGP calendar. A superb, high-speed racetrack in a beautiful Tuscan valley that throngs with a vast and enthusiastic crowd makes Mugello an irresistible event for riders, teams and fans.

This year’s Italian GP marks the one-third stage of the MotoGP World Championship, which currently features three Michelin riders in the top five: Jorge Lorenzo (Fiat Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin), Dani Pe drosa (Repsol Honda RC212V-Michelin) and Colin Edwards (Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1-Michelin). Mugello 2008 also marks the home-tarmac MotoGP debut of Italy’s newest MotoGP hotshot Andrea Dovizioso (JiR Team Scot Honda RC212V-Michelin).

Michelin has a great record at Mugello, the French tyre brand having won the last 15 premier-class GPs staged at the track. The circuit lap record is three years old, largely due to the track surface that has become increasingly bumpy in recent years.

MICHELIN AND THE TECHNICAL CHALLENGE OF MUGELLO

“Mugello is a great racetrack, with a lot of elevation changes which are a major part of its character, both from a riding point of view and from a tyre point of view,” says Jean-Philippe Weber, Michelin’s director of motorcycle racing. “The circuit isn’t one of the most demanding for tyres, it’s 20a little bit tougher than Le Mans, but what’s interesting is how the uphill sections stress the rear tyre and how the downhill sections stress the front.

“The front tyre is always very important at Mugello because there are a lot of downhill corner entries, where riders need good grip, good tyre support and good feedback so they can really attack. Riders also want light-handling tyres at Mugello because there are many high-speed changes of direction.

“Of course, the rear is also important. Riders need good grip and traction at maximum lean angle so they can be fast through the middle of the corners and also out of the corners.

“The surface is getting quite old and bumpy now, so the riders try to find smoother lines through the corners. It’s not easy for us to help in this area - if we were to build softer-construction tyres that absorb the bumps they would cause too much movement in the tyre. The other big factor at Mugello is horsepower - the straight is one of the longest in MotoGP.

“We are very much looking forward to seeing Andrea contest his first home MotoGP race. He has made a very impressive start to his MotoGP career. Despite some bad luck he’s shown he’s always capable of finishing in the top five or six, even though he’s a rookie and he doesn’t have a factory bike. His riding style is an interesting challenge for us - he’s very smooth and aggressive, and he spends more time at maximum lean than most riders, so we are working to give him a better grip/handling balance from the front tyre."

-credit: michelin

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Colin Edwards , Andrea Dovizioso , Jorge Lorenzo